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An important religious, commercial, and agricultural centre in the Tañjavūr district of Tamil Nadu since before the time of the Cōḻas. A popular tīrtha, it contains both Śaiva and Vāiṣṇava temples, and the Mahāmaham (Tam.: Makamakam) tank—the site every eleven to twelve years (most recently, 2004) of the great nine-day festival of Kumbheśvara (Śiva) (also known as the Mahāmaham festival). Held at the February–March full moon, the festival is marked by thousands of devotees ridding themselves of their sins by bathing in the tank, which is believed to mark the confluence of all the holy rivers of India, an event sometimes characterized as the South Indian Kumbh(a) Melā.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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